Drinking tea at least three times a week could be linked to a longer and healthier life, according to scientists.
New research has shown “habitual” consumption of the hot beverage is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Habitual tea drinking can lead to a longer and healthier life, claims a new study. This is according to medical researcher Melanie Anilson. She has been researching what makes people happy and healthy, and she also looks into the factors that make people unhappy.
She found that people who drink tea regularly tend to be more health conscious. “Studies have shown that people who are regular tea drinkers tend to be more healthy,” says Melanie. More importantly, she has also found that this is because they are less prone to heart disease and diabetes. More than a third of the people she studies drink tea at least a couple of times a week.
Melanie was able to discover what was behind this relationship and why these regular tea drinkers tended to be more healthy. It is a wonderful theory, but one question remained. Was it purely that tea has a calming effect on the body? It had been postulated that tea drinkers are more open to new experiences.
The answer to this is that there are more pros and cons to tea. It was learned that the amount of caffeine in tea has an effect on our mental alertness. So, too, do the fermentation and heat of the beverage.
The problem with the study was that the lab rats used in the study were given higher doses of rooibos tea, but because the rooibos was made of a plant, it didn’t contain a lot of caffeine. The answer, however, is that coffee, tea and soda don’t have caffeine in them.
Therefore, there are different levels of the stimulant that can be found in these drinks. The most caffeine-infused drink was the drink that contained the regular amounts of green tea. The result was that the subjects in the study that consuming these coffee, tea and soda drinks had a shorter and healthier life span.
These findings are not exactly a surprise to the habitual tea drinker. Melanie found that tea is healthier than coffee, since tea has caffeine, which lowers the potential for heart disease. Caffeine is toxic to the body, but studies have shown that it is not dangerous. A Tea Time is the equivalent of a Coffee Time.
But the beneficial findings might not apply equally to black and green tea.
The research from a team in China looked at data from 100,902 participants, with no previous history of heart attack, stroke or cancer.
The participants were categorised into two groups – habitual tea drinks, meaning those drinking tea three or more times a week, and never or non-habitual drinkers, meaning those who drink less than three times a week, and followed for 7.3 years.
They found that a 50-year-old habitual tea drinker would develop coronary heart disease or stroke, on average, 1.41 years later and live 1.26 years longer than someone who never, or rarely, drank tea.
Compared with never or non-habitual tea drinkers, habitual tea consumers had a 20 per cent lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, and a 22 per cent lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke.
They also had a 15 per cent decreased risk of all-cause death, the study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, suggests.
But first author Dr Xinyan Wang, of the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing, said: “The favourable health effects are the most robust for green tea and for long-term habitual tea drinkers.”
However, no significant associations were observed for black tea.
The researchers suggest a number of reasons for this including that green tea is a rich source of polyphenols, which protect against cardiovascular disease.
But all hope is not lost for black tea drinkers, as the researchers say the preference for green tea in East Asia (49 per cent of participants drank green tea compared to 8 per cent drinking black) meant there were fewer black tea drinkers to study.
Dr Wang said this small proportion might make it more difficult to observe robust associations.
The team added that the two cups per week as cut-off point was very little when compared to the average consumption of three to four cups per day in the UK.
“It is not clear from the study whether there is any benefit from higher tea intake – and therefore there is no likely benefit from increasing tea intake by the majority of the British public.”